A truly up in the air race as we are on the precipice of industry precursors that could tell the whole story or make it even murkier.
It’s no secret that Netflix has been craving a Best Picture Oscar win for years and they’ve gotten really close; 2018’s Roma almost made it and paved the way, somewhat, for the history-making non-English language win for Parasite the next year. But seemingly, each year, not only does the streamer have a surplus of films to promote and prioritize, they often feel a bit…stale. Not in the sense that they aren’t good films, but that they represent a bygone era of Best Picture winners. The Irishman, Mank, even Marriage Story all can connect to previous top Oscar winners that just don’t feel as fresh as what we’ve seen since Moonlight‘s historic win five years ago (2018’s Green Book aside). They have an interesting blend of both in The Power of the Dog; a seemingly old fashioned western-style set up but with a queer storyline that flips that script. While the film could suffer from critics’ pick frontrunner status, it’s the best chance Netflix has had to date to go all the way.
Belfast, with its surprise Telluride premiere and its Toronto Film Festival People’s Choice Award win, remains a top contender but it was hobbled severely when nominations were announced. First, supporting actress Caitríona Balfe, who had earned Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA nominations, was snubbed, and Judi Dench – who had zero precursors – got in. But more devastating was the lack of editing and cinematography nominations, especially the former. Even a winner like Green Book had that in its bag (where Roma didn’t) and that told the story some of us couldn’t, or didn’t want, to see. Belfast absolutely has to win PGA in order to be in the running as the Best Picture winner. But even then, can it overcome what only 2014’s Birdman and 1980’s Ordinary People have been able to do in the last 40+ years?
There’s no real argument to make out the top four of The Power of the Dog, Belfast, King Richard and West Side Story. Each have a combination of directing/acting/writing or all three. Dune‘s miss in director, for a film like that, is irrevocable. CODA and Licorice Pizza have only three nominations, Don’t Look Up and Drive My Car have just four and Nightmare Alley has neither directing, acting nor writing. This is, and has been, a two-horse race since September and it’s going to go all the way until the last week before Oscars, when the Producers Guild announces, before we have a (somewhat) clearer picture.
Precursor Watch: Critics’ Choice and BAFTA are March 13, PGA is March 19. Oscar winner voting is March 17-22.
Here are my ranked 2022 Oscar predictions in Best Picture for February.
- The Power of the Dog (Netflix) Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, Producers – GG, CCA, BAFTA, PGA
- Belfast (Focus Features) Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, Producers – GG, CCA, SAG, BAFTA, PGA
- King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, Producers – GG, CCA, SAG, PGA
- West Side Story (20th Century Studios) Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers – GG, CCA, PGA
- Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max) Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, Producers – GG, CCA, BAFTA, PGA
- CODA (Apple Original Films) Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, Producers – GG, CCA, SAG, PGA
- Don’t Look Up (Netflix) Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, Producers – GG, CCA, SAG, BAFTA, PGA
- Licorice Pizza (MGM/UAR) Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, Producers – GG, CCA, BAFTA, PGA
- Drive My Car (Sideshow/Janus Films) Teruhisa Yamamoto, Producer
- Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, Producers – CCA